October 7, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
After two decades in the dust and the dark, the former Reno racer Tsunami is the subject of a grassroots fundraising campaign to help it fly again.
Sharon Sandberg, daughter of Tsunami’s late owner, John Sandberg, is launching a $600,000 fundraising campaign to restore Tsunami to a flyable condition. It first raced at Reno’s National Championship Air Races and Air Show in 1986 and was dubbed the fastest piston-engine airplane in the world. Planning for the aircraft began in 1979 under a joint agreement between John Sandberg and Bruce Boland.
During its racing career it was raced by Steve Hinton (his son just won this year’s Unlimited Gold race) and Skip Holm. It did win a heat and set a course record, averaging 430 mph to 480 mph per race during its career from 1986 to 1991, but could never put away the championship.
Tsunami was capable of speeds in excess of 500 mph. The airplane first flew in August 1985. If restoration is funded, Sandberg plans to tour the aircraft and donate it to a museum. She has established a Web site to fund the restoration.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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